Cute isn’t she?
Gates: China hasn’t nixed military exchanges with U.S.
By Kevin Baron, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, February 24, 2010
ARLINGTON, Va. — China has not called off any military exchanges with the U.S. following a major U.S. arms sale to Taiwan last month, and unless Beijing signals otherwise, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will continue with a planned visit later this year.
“I think we’ll have to wait and see what unfolds,” Gates said Monday at the Pentagon.
Immediately following a $6 billion sale of weapons to Taiwan, China suspended contacts with the U.S., as it had warned. But Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters Monday that no military exchanges had been called off.
Following the sale, Gates said he was disappointed when China said it was suspending contacts between their militaries.
“I’d hoped that in the future we could shield the military-to-military relationship from the political ups and downs,” Gates said on February 1. “I think that we have a lot to learn from each other.”
So far, it appears China may have taken Gates’ advice. The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz was permitted to make a port call on Hong Kong last week. China had canceled previous port visits when relations went sour.
Gates and Mullen have pushed for more normalized and open military relations around the world, including with China. Last summer, Chief Naval Officer Adm. Gary Roughead toured China’s fleet. In October, Gen. Xu Caihou, Gates’ counterpart, spent a week touring U.S. military bases from the Pentagon to Pearl Harbor, and invited Gates to visit Beijing in 2010. He was the highest-ranking Chinese officer to visit Washington since 2006.
Both sides agreed to increase exchanges of junior officers and senior noncommissioned officers and to conduct combined search-and-rescue exercises at sea.
“Those were all agreements in principal to go forward with some exchanges in that area,” Gates said. “I just don’t think they’ve gotten to the point where there was anything to cancel.”
In October, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that Gates stressed to Xu: “There is a need to break the on-again-off-again cycle of our military-to-military relationship.”
One month later, President Barack Obama’s Beijing visit resulted in a joint U.S.-China statement that called for more exchanges by government leaders.